OOH …Here’s One Thing —by Jim Johnsen
OOH …Here’s One Thing
by Jim Johnsen,
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Company
Right now I want to metaverse myself into Tommy Teepell and shout out “Happy New Year” in only the way he can. But unfortunately I don’t have the equipment I will show you below, and so you’re stuck with me instead. But kidding aside, Happy New Year and tremendous joy and prosperity in 2022 to you all. I saw a quote the other day that I thought was a perfect mantra to dive into 2022 with:
“Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow.” James Michener
Not bad right? Now a trivia question: Its 1976. I am 37 years old. I made a small fortune selling outdoor advertising in the 1960’s and decided to bet the ranch on radio and television. Oh yea, I also just paid $12 million for the Braves. Who am I?
Okay Johnsen can we get down to business? One of the things I look forward to the most in any new year is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. If you haven’t noticed before, as a failed electrical engineer, I love all things tech. Vegas isn’t bad either in small doses. Not sure if you noticed (or cared) but CES got absolutely decimated this year. I can’t imagine how much money the show organizers (and the city of Las Vegas) lost. I’d love to know if anyone has the deets. Long short, after having to cancel the live show last year because of Covid, CES was hell bent on having it in person this year. When Omicron decided to rear its ugly head in December (or when the media decided to scare the shit out us once again…but don’t get me started), the vast majority of participants and attendees pulled the ripcord. Here is a quote that sums it up nicely:
“It was surreal,” said Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy, who decided to follow through with attending in person to show off his company’s new solar roof shingle. “This was probably my eleventh year going to CES and the lack of crowds was bizarre.” CES 2022: 5 takeaways from the giant tech trade show (msn.com)
When DPAA informed me around the 23rd of December that the curated tour was off, I also put my tail between my legs and bailed. But, hey not all is lost. The metaverse is here and there were plenty of futurists serving up their own versions of virtual curated tours. I sat in on Jeff Minsky‘s (of the Myers Report) and Deidre McGlashan‘s and James Townsend‘s (of Stagwell Media Network) little 1.5 hour teams coffee talk. Here are my crib notes:
- Bigger is better. The screen manufacturers are still obsessed with creating bigger and better TV screens for our living rooms. 80 to 90 inches is not uncommon and will soon be a commodity. You can have a 100 inch if you have a wall big enough to mount it on and a room big enough so that you don’t get a sunburn watching it. Kind of makes me wonder where this arms race will end. Maybe every inch of wall in a room becomes “addressable”?
- Which is a good segue (and no Segways in sight btw…where did they go?)…VR is still pushing forward. Companies (included Facebook ehem I mean Meta) rolled out googles, glasses and believe or not contact lenses that allow you to enter the metaverse. Attnkare has developed a VR game used to help alleviate ADHD in children. Maybe we have moved beyond it being a kitschy little toy? But the biggest news here, at least according to Minsky, is that Apple will release its own VR glasses to the public in 2022. Can anyone else smell a big ad buy coming down the pike? And btw if you can just strap glasses on, who the hell needs a 100 inch screen.
- A bit of trivia I learned from the tour. This is the 54th year of CES. The first one was held in New York City. Apple was prohibited from exhibiting at the first CES because personal computers were not considered a consumer electronic. In retaliation, Apple started a competing show called MacWorld. The rest is history as they say. In the 70’s the show was dominated by American manufacturers like Magnavox and General Electric. In the 80s it was Japanese…think Sony. In the 90’s and 2000’s it was Korean (Samsung, LG). Now, according to Minsky, the Chinese dominate.
- Many of the screen manufacturers have or are developing deep data strategies. It feels to me like manufacturing could be the trojan horse to a media empire. Own a Samsung tv? Samsung knows what you watch, 24/7…and probably knows a bunch more about you.
- Speaking of data, there was lots of chatter about artificial intelligence at the show. Minsky cited an example of a John Deere piece of equipment called See and Spray, which uses computer vision to differentiate plants and weeds and allows the farmer to spray only the weeds thereby reducing pesticide use by 80%! What that has to do with consumer electronics, I haven’t the foggiest…but I like it.
- There is a new start up out there, backed by some of the best names in venture capital and promoted by Usain Bolt called Portl. From their website “Beam yourself around the globe simultaneously”. Feel free to check it out here Home – PORTL (portlhologram.com). The best I can tell, it looks a little smaller than a storefront in the red light district of Amsterdam and can reproduce a full and live virtual person (or any matter for that matter) in real time. Can you imagine if you can utilize this technology in bus shelters? Como se dice Star Trek.
- Cars and car concepts were abundant, but thank God for us that there was no big news on self-driving vehicles, at least as far as I could tell. I think Minsky made a comment that the number of sensors needed to pull off a self-driving car was very high in number, incredibly expensive and it is unclear how if the car got in an accident or the equipment was damaged it would get replaced. This sounds like a high barrier, along with insurance and legal issues to seeing self-driving cars becoming a practical reality in the near future. With that said, that does not seem to stop the car companies from installing larger and larger displays inside the cars. Check out this interesting little EV upstart: Introducing the INDI One | First Look – INDI (driveindi.com). Two other mentionables: Chevy has officially released its Silverado in full EV version and it only starts at $39k. Could that be right? In addition, the Bentley of EV’s is finally about to roll out. Check out: Venture Forward | FF 91 | Faraday Future Have a quarter million that’s not doing anything? It could be yours. (Oh yea and now you can also pre-order a flying car as well).
- I could ramble on about how Kissinger and Eric Schmidt are teaming up in the AI space, how a little app called Kamelo allows anyone to create deep fakes and should be outlawed, how Sensorium wants to be your nightclub in the metaverse, how Pinker could revolutionize the tattoo industry…but I will spare you.
- However there is one more worth mentioning. It’s called Nextgen.tv. Watch NextGenTV | The Future of Television has Arrived “The Future of Television has Arrived”. Huh. I cut the cord a couple years back and never looked back. I would never be long linear TV at the moment. But these guys have pulled together an impressive network of local TV operators. If they could stimulate over the air TV viewing again from the interactivity that they offer…huh they just might have something. With that said I think I will throw some popcorn in the microwave and grab a front row seat. I’m yet to be convinced. Even if I could get some old “I Love Lucy”, complete with ads, for free.
And to lead us out with something different, how about some Foo Fighters?
“If anything could ever be this good again
The only thing I’ll ever ask of you
You gotta promise not to stop when I say when”
Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC
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